August 15, 1926 - June 4, 2018 An actress whose professional career lasted 65 years and spanned Broadway, live television, Oscar-winning films, soap operas, and more, has died at 91. Ms. Tenner, whose professional name was Georgann Johnson, was born August 15th, 1926 in Decorah, Iowa to George and Helene Johnson. She graduated from Decorah High School, received her BA from Luther College, and a Master's Degree in Oratory from Northwestern University. After at stint at Alvina Krause's theater in Bloomsburg, she moved to New York City in 1950. Georgann liked to say that the only non-acting job she ever held was the two weeks she spent selling gloves at Lord & Taylor's. Throughout the 1950's she worked in the new medium of television, appearing on episodes of the Goodyear Playhouse, Kraft Theatre, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents and many others. She appeared with actors such as James Dean in "Life Sentence", and as Paul Newman's wife in the original television production of "Bang the Drum Slowly". She also starred as Tony Randall's wife in the television show "Mr. Peepers" and in the movie "Shortcut to Hell" directed by James Cagney. In 1954, she was on Broadway in "Reclining Figure" directed by Abe Burrows. It was in a revival of "Room Service" that she met the actor Stanley Prager. They married in 1956 while Prager was starring as Prez in the original production of "The Pajama Game". It was the McCarthy era and Prager had already been called to testify in front of HUAC. They went to Rhode Island to marry in hopes that it would not make the papers. Prez was one of his last roles and, after decades as an actor, Prager switched to directing. "Of course it was in the papers," Georgann would say but the couple survived the blacklist and both continued to work in show business. In the 1960's, Georgann was on Broadway, starring opposite Henry Fonda in "Critic's Choice" directed by Otto Preminger. On television she appeared in episodes of "Dr. Kildare", "The Doctors", and "The Fugitive", among others. In 1969, she had a role in "Midnight Cowboy" which won the Oscar for Best Picture. In the 1970's it was soap operas, with long running roles on both "Another World/Somerset" as Ellen Grant and "As the World Turns" as Jane Spencer. Throughout the next 35 years, Georgann continued her work, with recurring roles on such television shows as "Our Family Honor", "Wiseguy", "The Trials of Rosie O'Neill", and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman", and in movies directed by, among others, Hal Ashby, Robert Altman, and Martin Ritt. Some years after Stanley's death in 1972, she relocated to Los Angeles and, in 1981, married the Honorable Jack Tenner, a Superior Court Judge and civil rights activist. She said some of her happiest times as an actor were the improvisations she and Jack did to raise funds at the many events they attended. They remained married until his death in 2008. Georgann is survived by her four daughters: Carol Prager, Annie Prager, Sally Seymour (Ralph), and Molly Boyll (David), and three grandchildren, Hannah Seymour, Gabriel Seymour, and Caroline Boyll. She will be greatly missed.
Published in Los Angeles Times on Jun. 14, 2018.